Saturday, December 29, 2012

2013: The year of Australian Geography

Image above: AGTA's January 2013 conference in Perth is imminent.

Sites related to Spatialworlds
Spatialworlds website
Australian Geography Teachers' Association website
'Towards a National Geography Curriculum' project website
Humsteach blog

Follow Spatialworlds on Twitter

Email contact

Where am I??
Port Lincoln, South Australia: S: 34º 42' E: 135º 52'

Time for an update on the Australian Curriculum: Geography
As we enter a new year I thought it was warranted to do an update of where things are at with the Australian Curriculum: Geography. Despite ACARA’s plan that the geography curriculum would be published in December 2012, the curriculum was not released and is presently going through further edits following a few negative responses from the jurisdictions.
It seems that the attention is primarily Years 9 and 10, with the remainder of the curriculum generally acceptable to the States. Presently ACARA is saying that curriculum is most likely to be published in March 2013 after the next State Education Ministers meeting. Let’s hope so! Schools are busting to start teaching geography in cahoots with the history curriculum already available.
On a more positive note, the Educational Services Australia (ESA) GeogSpace project (which AGTA is developing and hence has a degree of control over the process) is on schedule and is to be released in March 2013 as well. 
In a way this has turned out for the better with the curriculum and resources being released simultaneously. Since last reporting on GeogSpace in 2012, the project has moved forward at a furious pace and is nearing completion.  AGTA and its writers have completed the writing and presently all materials are being edited by the AGTA and ESA editing teams. As the resources are edited, they are being uploaded to the GeogSpace site. The site is open to all (no passwords or costs), anywhere in the world and is scheduled to go live in March this year (unless something goes very wrong). I can assure you that a Spatialworlds posting will be posted with the GeogSpace URL as soon as it can be accessed.
Geography in Australia has much to look forward to in 2013 as the F-12 curriculum and F-10 resources become available to use in all schools across Australia.  As mentioned previously the attention of AGTA and myself will then turn towards conducting professional learning for the curriculum and related resources to ensure that teachers have the capacity to deliver a world class 21st Century geography curriculum in Australia.  I envisage that many of the Spatialworlds postings in 2013 will be developed to support this professional learning and to be a signpost to outstanding resources on the GeogSpace site. I aim to develop a synergy between Spatialworlds and GeogSpace to encourage and enhance the use of the site in Australia and beyond.
To set things rolling for 2013, the AGTA Conference called ‘Geography’s New Frontier’ is starting in Perth in a week. Over 200 geographers from around Australia are gathering for 5 days to learn and discuss. It should be a great way to kick start 2013 in the most positive way to make sure that 2013 is the year of geography. I am sure the conference will provide plenty of fodder for Spatialworlds postings in January.
Happy New Year to Spatialworlds readers.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Looking geographically

Image above: Fishing fleet, Port Lincoln, South Australia

Sites related to Spatialworlds
Spatialworlds website
Australian Geography Teachers' Association website
'Towards a National Geography Curriculum' project website
Humsteach blog

Follow Spatialworlds on Twitter

Email contact

Where am I??
Port Lincoln, South Australia: S: 34º 42' E: 135º 52'

Seeing the world through the eyes of a geographer with maps and visualisations

Much has been spoken about geographical thinking but much of geographical thinking is dependent on geographical looking. The geographer’s use of maps and visualisations enables them to see the world quite differently to the non-geographer. Maps and visualisations expose locations, distributions, patterns and trends which provide the basis of spatial thinking and analysis. In this posting I have listed a range of great maps/visualisations which provide a different look at the world. When looking at each representation (whether old or new), the geographer will undertake spatial analysis with the ever present geographical questions of where and why. It makes sense that some describe geography is the study of the "why of the where".
The following are just the tip of the iceberg of interesting maps from the past and today.

 * Power socketmap


* Africa in 1908

* London: a functional analysis from Patrick Abercrombie's post-war urban planning, 1944
* Time-Lapse Map of the World's 2053 Nuclear Explosions

* Visualization of taxi traffic. Part of "Sense of Patterns" - visualizing mobility data in public spaces.

* "Dencity"by Fathom, a look at population density, with larger dots representing sparser.
* US map of the percent born in state of residence (2010)

* Where people post geo-tagged photos toFlickr (red) from and geo-tagged tweets to Twitter from (blue), or both (white). By Eric Fischer.

* UK riots overlaid on a map of UK poverty

* Eight-year olds travel distances, then and now

* "Food Deserts" - no car and no supermaket within a mile.

* Google Earth layer showing Russian Wildfire activity

* "See Rome as it looked in 320 AD and fly down to see famous buildings and monuments in 3D. Select the 'Ancient Rome 3D' layer under Gallery in Google Earth."
* Ten of the greatest: Maps that changed the world . A recent  exhibition at the British Library charts the extraordinary documents that transformed the way we view the globe forever

Just for interest on the nothing is new theme A fantastic contraption, called the ‘Routefinder’, showed 1920s drivers in the UK the roads they were travelling down, gave them the mileage covered and told them to stop when they came at journey’s end.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A call for profiles

Image above: The AGTA GeoCareers website

Sites related to Spatialworlds
Spatialworlds website
Australian Geography Teachers' Association website
'Towards a National Geography Curriculum' project website
Humsteach blog

Follow Spatialworlds on Twitter

Email contact
Where am I??
Port Lincoln, South Australia: S: 34º 42' E: 135º 52'

Think about nominating a profile for the GeoCareers site
Last week I shared a cab in Canberra with a fellow queue waiter at the airport. It turned out that the lady was a town planner from Adelaide who trained as a geographer in Perth. Naturally my GeoCareers radar went up and I asked her if she was interested in being profiled as a geographer at work on the Australian Geography Teachers Association (AGTA) GeoCareers website. The website was established back in 2007 to promote to schools and students the idea that many people we see working in our world, may not be known as geographers but in fact trained as and are geographers (they just don’t use the name). As schools do their career and subject counselling it is often said that students need to think about subjects that lead to a vocation. As previous Spatialworlds postings have made clear, there are a plethora of jobs for the geographically trained (albeit not called geography).
The Geocareers site hopes that profiling geographers doing a wide range of jobs will encourage students to consider choosing geography as the vibrant, relevant and vocationally pertinent subject that it is. The site profiles geographers working indoor, outdoors and in the areas of environmental care, knowledge sharing and research.  Those profiled are asked questions such as: prior studies, work description, best aspects of job, career pathway /opportunities and advice to people considering  the career.

As well as providing interesting profiles of individuals, the site provides information on geography courses around Australia and a range of resources related to careers in geography.
In the future AGTA hopes to make the site more dynamic through videos and interactive contact with those profiled (if the profiled are happy to do so).
Through this posting I encourage readers to forward themselves or individuals they know who would be candidates to be profiled on GeoCareers. The GeoCareers site manager, Rob Berry would then make contact asking the nominated person to complete a GeoCareers questionnaire and provide a picture of themselves at work. The more profiles AGTA can muster on the site, the more effective the site can become to encourage young people to consider studying geography and working in a field related to geography and/or working in a job where they consider their geographical skills will enhance their capacity to perform their job. Please consider this call and let’s see if we can build the best geography careers site on the web. By the way, considering that many of Spatialworlds visitors are from all around the world, AGTA is happy to profile individuals from anywhere in the world. Just send the email contact details to me at and AGTA will do the rest.

Another site to support the GeoCareers site is that from the Geographical Society of NSW (GSNSW). The Geographical Society of NSW (GSNSW) has recently produced four videos of Honours Students from 2012 in a series called "Why Study Geography?"   I believe that it has relevance to geography in all Australian states and territories. The videos are of students from the University of Sydney, Wollongong, UNSW and Newcastle explaining why they became interested in geography, what they love about it, what they have been studying and how they see geography as being a useful subject for their lives and careers.  The videos are of young people communicating in a manner that is likely to be received well by other young people, such as prospective students.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Time-Space Compression

Image above: Travel can be a blur!

Spatialworlds project
Spatialworlds website
Australian Geography Teachers' Association website
'Towards a National Geography Curriculum' project website
Humsteach blog

Follow Spatialworlds on Twitter

Email contact

Where am I??
Adelaide, Australia: S: 34º 55' E: 138º 36'

A mobile world diminishing in size! 

The concept of time-space compression continues to fascinate the geographer and "spatialogist". As we look back in history there has been a drastic change in spatial perception, distance and possible time
The spatial representations of air traffic movements are a great indication of the changed mobility of people, goods, ideas and microbes around the world every day. The spatial perception people have about the size of the world is vastly different to what it was 100 years ago(40 years ago for that matter). Not only does the telephone and internet enable us to talk (and see) someone on the other side of the world, we can hop on a plane and be on the other side of the world ourselves in 24 hours. Air travel has become increasingly accessible and affordable for a large number of the worlds population and hence the interchange of ideas, people and even diseases has increased remarkably. Many observers say that the resulting changed spatial perceptions of the world has been a major driver of globalisation phenomena over recent years. The world is a "mobile feast" with all the associated good and bad consequences.
Of interest to this blog is what is the impact on a persons spatial perception of the world and space as a result of this changed and ever diminishing "tyranny of distance"? Do people actually see the world as a smaller place. Just consider the following spatial representations of air traffic every 24 hours and some of the facts about air traffic in many of the countries of the world.

Air traffic visualisations and information on the links and the range of ways to show global flight movements.
The yellow dots are airplanes in the sky during a 24-hour period. Stay with the picture. You will see the light of the day moving from the east to the west as the Earth spins on it's axis. Also you will see the aircraft flow of traffic leaving the North American continent and travelling at night to arrive in the UK in the morning. Then you will see the flow changing, leaving the UK in the morning and flying to the American continent in daylight. It is a 24-hour observation of all of the large aircraft flights in the world, condensed down to about 2 minutes. From space we look like a beehive of activity.
Such visualisations are wonderful ways to explore the related issues of increasingly world mobility with students.

World flights in 24 hours

United States Air Traffic in 24 hours
Europe Air Traffic in 24 hours in 3D!

Some facts about air traffic

From the National Air Traffic Controllers Association

On any given day, more than 87,000 flights are in the skies in the United States. Only 35 per cent, or just over 30,000 of those flights are commercial carriers, like American, United or Southwest. On an average day, air traffic controllers handle 28,537 commercial flights (major and regional airlines), 27,178 general aviation flights (private planes), 24,548 air taxi flights (planes for hire), 5,260 military flights and 2,148 air cargo flights (Federal Express, UPS, etc.). At any given moment, roughly 5,000 planes are in the skies above the United States. In one year, controllers handle an average of 64 million takeoffs and landings. Passenger and freight traffic forecasts projecting that in 2011 the air transport industry will handle 2.75 billion passengers (620 million more passengers than in 2006) and 36 million tonnes of international freight (7.5 million tonnes more than in 2006).
International passenger demand is expected to rise from 760 million passengers in 2006 to 980 million in 2011 at an annual average growth rate (AAGR) of 5.1%.
International freight volumes are expected to grow at an AAGR of 4.8% over the forecast period, supported by economic growth, globalisation and trade.
Total international passenger numbers are forecast to be around 105 million in 2011, an increase of 30 million over 2006 levels.
"The numbers clearly show that the world wants to fly. And it also needs to fly. Air transport is critical to the fabric of the global economy, playing a critical role in wealth generation and poverty reduction. The livelihoods of 32 million people are tied to aviation, accounting for US$3.5 trillion in economic activity,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO. 

 A recently released site profiles a very interesting map from the1932 Atlas of the Historical Geography of the UnitedStates showing the rate of travel by rail from New York City in 1800. As you can see, in 1 day you barely got out of the city by today's standards, and it took weeks to get only a couple states over. Time must have travelled slowly in those days and distance perception must have been so different to what we have today. A great example of time-space compression change.

So how do we and will we see the world spatially in the future? Is the world getting smaller in our brains?? Interestingly there seems to be a lack of research on this change in peoples spatial perception as a result of the real and virtual mobility around the planet.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Skill of correlation

The geographical skill of correlation

In a previous Spatialworlds posting an attempt was made to delinate the skills involved in 'doing geography'. One of those skills was described as source/data critiquingthe ability of geographers to collect, interrogate and analyse data and visual representations (maps, visualisations, images). In this post I propose that the skill of correlation comes under this broader skill set. Correlation is a skill used by geographers when they view multiple data sets to answer causation and trending questions (other critical geographical skills). Whilst single data and visual representations are useful in themselves, the abilty to look across data sets is a very powerful tool for geographers to answer spatial questions through the correlation of data layers. The use of GIS has greatly increased the capacity of students to look for correlation between data sets (represented as layers in GIS) to answer rather elaborate questions. The two interactive sites highlighted in this posting are great examples of the resources available on the Internet to do some 'rich' inquiry by using the geographical skill of correlation.

The where and why map of Global Cancer Rates

The interactive map called Cancer’s Global Footprint is a fantastic representation of data related to cancer incidence and mortality rates across the globe. These rates are represented as New cancer cases annually per 100,000 people.The map shows Breast, Prostate, Cervical, Liver, Lung Stomach Cancer incidence and mortality across the globe. Whilst interesting in itself, the maps provide the opportunity to ask students the question of why are the rates varied across the globe. For example, does the incidence and the deadliness of the cancers mapped correlate to data such as development, income, diet, income, poverty and health care. While the site has a go at explaining the variance of rates across the globe, the map also opens the door for the teacher to use other layers of data to see what the correlations may be. GIS programs available in the classroom can do some pretty neat correlations with the click of the mouse. If you do not want to use GIS to map correlations, why not use the WorldMapper site to see if the students can propose some correlations by looking at some of the different cartograms using a variety of criteria. Worldmapper is a collection of world maps, where territories are re-sized on each map according to specific criteria.There are now nearly 700 maps including relevant representations for the cancer rates such as wealth, education , income, health, poverty and disease.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Connecting with ...

Image above: A multi-cultural class in Australia. Why not turn every class into a multicultural class by connecting with the world through technology. .

Related sites to the Spatialworlds project
Spatialworlds website
Australian Geography Teachers' Association website
'Towards a National Geography Curriculum' project website
Geography Teachers' Association of South Australia website
Humsteach blog

Follow Spatialworlds on Twitter

Email contact

Where am I??
Adelaide, Australia: S: 34º 55' E: 138º 36'

Using technology to connect

A recent article titled 'How to learn in the 21st Century' by Rita Oates follows on nicely from the last Spatialworlds posting on the Interconnection concept.  What better way could there be than have the students actually connect with students from around the world.  No longer do we have to just talk about other parts of the world, in a geography class, we can electronically interact, talk with and even see others from around the world in real time. In the article Rita says:
"Schools and teachers must be challenged to use the tools and techniques of today, not the ones of the past. Learning in the 21st century requires critical thinking, adept use of technology, and global collaboration, and we should offer all these to our students on a regular basis. Let's make the best possible uses of the new tools available to us so that our students are better prepared to participate in the global community."
The article provides some great ideas to engage students in meaningful learning using the technologies listed on this posting. For example:

"Teachers can assign students in small groups or pairs to search the site's list of teachers from 200 countries and territories for a classroom with which they might connect. An automatic translator on the ePals site enables students to communicate with students in China, Korea, Japan, or other countries whose language they do not know. Students in the two classes could use the free SchoolBlog to post questions and photos that they can set to be visible to the two classes only. A rich international discussion can arise from simply comparing one's school and community with that of another. Students can also share their stories by creating documentaries about their schools, homes, and communities. For example, students in rural Senegal, working with the CyberSmart 21st Century Initiative, created these videos documenting their daily lives."

Here are some of the great resources now available for students to connect with other students around the world. This list is by no means exhaustive but it is a start on the software/sites and link conduits available for classrooms to connect (mostly freer!)

Connecting to the global community. Safely connect with classrooms around the world for collaborative, project-based learning. Finding a classroom to link with through this site.
A collaboration story  

Global SchoolNet's mission is to support 21st century learning and improve academic performance through content-driven collaboration. We engage educators and students in meaningful e-learning projects worldwide.

* Taking it Global is the world’s largest online community
TakingITGlobal's mission is to empower youth to understand and act on the world's greatest challenges.

This site supplies students with the tools they need to blog about anything they like. Get the pupils involved, blog with another school or take part in writing challenges. PrimaryBlog makes it simple to share, fun to write and keeps pupils engaged.

The World's most popular education blogging service. Edublogs lets you easily create & manage student & teacher blogs, quickly customize designs and include videos, photos & podcasts - it's safe, easy and secure.

* SchoolBloggers
 A free "school-driven" blog engine, with special features and monitoring tools for principals, teachers and class assistants.

Using Skype to connect.  Find a school to Skype from the list. Here is a blog with advice on using Skype to connect classrooms.

Connected Classrooms is a school project that allows classrooms to connect with other classrooms from all around the world. Teachers may register their class on the site to begin the project.

Free and easy to use.  To be safe make the settings as you require. Spatialworlds uses this Blog service.

Everything is connected to something!

The concept of Interconnection
A recurring theme and key concept of the Australian Curriculum: Geography is Interconnection.
“The concept of interconnection emphasises that no object of geographical study can be viewed in isolation. It is about the ways that geographical phenomena are connected to each other through environmental processes, the movement of people, flows of trade and investment, the purchase of goods and services, cultural influences, the exchange of ideas and information, political power and international agreements. Interconnections can be complex, reciprocal or interdependent, and have a strong influence on the characteristics of places.”  Australian Curriculum: Geography draft August 2012

A previous Spatialworlds posting explored the concept of Interdependence when looking at the Kony 2012 phenomenon. As geography teachers and users of spatial technology we are constantly deconstructing our world for students to see that nothing is simple and everything is interconnected, often interdependent and extremely complex. The fact we have a world of order out of the complexities created by interconnection is amazing. The following resource called ‘I, Pencil’ is a fantastic expose on these issues, using the simple pencil (not so simple!) to show the role geography plays in explaining the complexities of our world.
This year's National Geographic Geography Awareness Week's theme was "Declare Your Interdependence!"  The Rhode Island Geography Education Alliance at has developed and archived some great resources to teach interconnection.  The Geography Awareness Week's poster (includes lesson plans etc) for 2012 focused on the video I, Pencil (Geography of a Pencil).  The examination of the theme of interconnectedness makes this a great resource.  It also opens the door for some great conversations about the economics of capitalism and globalization and the concept of spontaneous order.
* Trailer for the I, Pencil movie

* The video. "I, Pencil".

* I, Pencil Extended Commentary is a video series elaborating the fundamental themes of "I, Pencil." The subjectof this installment is Spontaneous Order.

* I, Pencil Extended Commentary is a video series elaborating the fundamental themes of "I, Pencil." The subject of this installment is Connectivity.

* I, Smartphone" is a video based on the essay "I, Pencil" penned by Leonard Read in 1958. This video provides the opportunity to extend the discussion to the more complex Smartphone in terms of technology, but maybe the geography no more complex than the pencil?

The following link on food also would be useful to teach the interconnection concept and link very nicely into the Australian Curriculum: Geography Year Biomes and Food security.